Gather your friends and use these patriotic decorating, entertaining, and recipe ideas for this year's 4th of July celebration. From festive star banners and refreshing watermelon coolers to raveworthy party favors and more, your 4th of July party is bound to be summer's biggest shindig.View Slideshow
Gather your ghosts and goblins -- young and old -- for a buffet of traditional party foods disguised in Halloween style.
Gather 'round and we'll share hauntingly good ideas for setting up and dishing out a spooktacular Halloween buffet. We've got you covered from decorations to recipes.
Write a mysterious message, such as the first lines of Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven" (shown here), on a chalkboard. Set the chalkboard against the wall behind the food to give guests something to read while waiting in line.
A special message greets party-goers via this creative pumpkin garland. Simply cut the pumpkins and letters from cardstock, hang with twine, and swag across a window, doorway, or mantel to set the scene.
Birds love to pick at table scraps. Attach a fake raven to a chandelier above the buffet table, and watch your guests cover their food to avoid it getting stolen.
With the help of your digital camera, this creepy view can be yours. Convert an image of a graveyard to black-and-white. Take the image to a blueprint service and have them enlarge to the desired size. Tape the image to the window from the outside for an eerie sight.
Set the table with classic black-and-white toile and houndstooth patterns to add gothic elegance. Add ruffles to the end of the runner by gathering a thread through the center of strips of yellow and black ribbon. Then stitch the ribbon in place 1-1/2 inches from the short edge of the runner.
Whet your guests' appetites with an eerie menu. Give party foods Halloween-inspired names. (For example, fondue becomes "Demon Dip.") Use scrapbooking letter stickers to spell the newly named dishes on an old mirror, and display the menu on a plate stand. Surround with Halloween decorations, such as ravens and pumpkins.
These stone labels cloak any aspect of the buffet in ghastly guise. Use black acrylic paints to darken stones. Stencil seasonal words on the rocks for table decorations or label with names for place settings. Identify buffet food and drinks with these eerie rocks for a spooky touch.
Party-perfect perches are simple to make. Cut 4-1/2-inch-diameter circles from yellow poster board foam. Stick adhesive-back, black felt die-cut garland to the circles, trimming as necessary.
Set up a drink station in the corner of a room where guests can mingle while pouring their favorite beverages. Fill thermoses with cider and juice, and use pumpkin labels cut from crafts foam to identify the drinks. Transform a plastic pumpkin into a spiderlike ice bucket by attaching chenille legs.
Food sitting out always attracts insects. This party is no different. But these creepy skewers neatly stab delectable nibbles. Photocopy bug images and use a jumbo punch to punch out two bug circles for each skewer. Glue the circles together with the skewer in between.
Give a party favorite some Halloween flair with a few extra garnishes. Top deviled eggs with a dollop of caviar "bug guts" and sliced green olives "monster eyes." Serve the eggs on a platter surrounded with red licorice ropes "guts." A ghoulish hand, ready to pounce, may scare off some guests, but the bolder ones will risk attack to snag a deviled egg.
Basic cheese fondue becomes "Demon Dip" when served in a witch's cauldron. Use breads, vegetables, and tortilla chips as dipping options for the fondue.
Boring party drinks become spooky with the addition of dry ice. Place dry ice in a tall, heavy metal cup and set it inside a punch bowl. (Be sure the cup extends above the rim of the bowl.) Pour cold cider into the punch bowl and watch the fog drift from it. Place a tray beneath the bowl to catch any drips. Surround the eerie concoction with edible eyeball candies and black licorice jelly beans.
Granny Smiths are just the right hue to give apple treats an "alien green" vibe. These Alien Apples are easy to make, and they taste out of this world. Look for caramel apple kits at the grocery store. Prepare according to directions. For extra flavor, dip the apples in crushed peanuts while the caramel is still warm. Serve them on a bed of candy corn.
Don't forget a sweet finish to your Halloween buffet. Use Halloween-theme cookie cutters and refrigerated cookie dough to create easy treats. Frost and decorate the cookies with edible embellishments, such as colored sugar and round cinnamon candies (as shown on the cat cookies) or licorice and mini candy-coated milk chocolate pieces (as shown on the pumpkin cookies). Jack-o'-lanterns can rest in a bed of orange jelly beans, while purple frosted cupcakes are the perfect perch for black cat cookies.